Appeals to people of five poll-bound States
Vote out the Congress if the Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed in the winter session of the Parliament, Anna Hazare said on Tuesday, in an appeal to the people of the five poll-bound States. With this ultimatum, Team Anna sought to make its anti-Congress stand clearer than ever. Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Hazare and core committee member Arvind Kejriwal emphasised on making the Jan Lokpal Bill an electoral issue.
Mr. Hazare said that if by the winter session the Congress failed to deliver on the three promises of bringing the lower bureaucracy within the ambit of the Lokpal, including the citizens' charter, and providing a Lokayukta in each State, he would protest against the Congress.
In a move that signifies Team Anna's increasing involvement in electoral politics, the social activist said he would hold sabhas and tell people not to vote for the Congress. Mr. Hazare's immediate step would be to campaign against the Congress in Hisar, Haryana, where by-election to the Loksabha seat was scheduled for October 13. “I will tell the people that the Congress has deliberately not passed the Jan Lokpal Bill, so don't vote for them,” Mr. Hazare said.
He said the ‘civil society activists' had asked all the political parties to give written assurances that if elected, their candidate would support the Jan Lokpal Bill in Parliament. “We have got letters from almost all the parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, except for the Congress. We will wait for two days for Congress president Sonia Gandhi's letter. Otherwise we will campaign against the Congress,” Mr. Hazare said. He also read out BJP president Nitin Gadkari's letter supporting the Bill.
Asked whether Hisar will be an acid test for Team Anna's influence on the voters, Mr. Kejriwal said: “We are not standing for the election. It is not our acid test in any way.”
Chalking out the future course of action, Mr. Hazare said he would undertake a yatra in Uttar Pradesh, beginning with a hunger strike in Lucknow three days before the elections. “This will give a message to the people that the Congress has not been serious about rooting out corruption. They are not determined to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill, which is our right. Don't vote for them,” Mr. Hazare said. Along with Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Hazare plans to tour Gujarat, Punjab, Goa and Uttarakhand, which are also facing elections next year.
Asked whether he would endorse any party or candidate in the coming State elections, Mr. Hazare said the people would know best. “I cannot tell people whom to vote. The local people will have to decide that on the basis of his character,” he said.
But having a “good character” would not be good enough for a Congress candidate if the Jan Lokpal Bill was not passed, Mr. Hazare said. “Even if a Congress candidate is clean, and non-corrupt, we will tell people not to vote for him, as the party has a whip on its parliamentarians, “Mr. Kejriwal said.
However, if the Jan Lokpal Bill was passed, then he would stress on clean candidates representing the Congress, he said.
Asked by The Hindu if the movement was becoming increasingly political, contradicting Mr. Hazare's earlier statement of being apolitical, Mr. Kejriwal said: “This is democracy. If the government does not do its duty, they will be voted out. We are not apolitical, but we are beyond electoral politics and party politics. After eight months of deliberations, the government is still cheating us.”